Another Yellow Book Garden: Windsor Cottage

Looking back to a sunny summer’s day!

Off down the A49 trunk road into Herefordshire for another visit to enjoy a fellow NGS, Yellow book garden. Windsor Cottage is near the village of Dilwyn and described as a wildlife friendly half-acre garden which has just completed a 5 year redesign.

wc-5 wc-4

This proved to be garden full of very special plants beautifully grown by a couple of keen, energetic gardeners who were so keen to share their garden with us. They are both artists and their use of colour and planting companions displayed their creative flair.

wc-7 wc-6wc-1 wc-3

In order to share our enjoyment of Windsor Cottage with you I have created this gallery. Please click on the first picture and navigate using the arrows.

So this was a garden of great plants, two great plantspeople and an atmosphere of peacefulness and relaxation.

wc-2     wc-8

Posted in climbing plants, colours, flowering bulbs, garden design, garden photography, gardening, gardens, hardy perennials, Herefordshire, irises, July, light, light quality, National Garden Scheme, NGS, ornamental trees and shrubs, renovation, village gardens, water garden, water in the garden, Yellow Book Gardens | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Another Yellow Book Garden – Hill House Farm

We love to visit our fellow Yellow Book gardens and then sharing them with you. In this post we will share our visit to Hill House Farm, another Herefordshire garden gem. We visited back in July. We liked the description presented in the NGS book, which enticed us to wander slowly down a long gentle slope through shrub and tree plantings in grass with closer cut paths marking the way down to a wildlife pool 200 feet below. Knowing that the garden had been developing for 40 years already gave added interest, as these gardeners were obviously thinking about and doing things in their garden. All good gardeners will never stop learning!

We love a garden with a warm welcome, inviting paths and steps especially when one flight of steps surrounded by aromatic herbs leads us to a good cup of tea and homemade cakes! Beautifully designed and thoughtfully placed seats help too!

ht-003 ht-001

As soon as we arrived we knew we would enjoy the plants as they seemed to be placed in the best possible places to catch the light to absorb it and increase the intensity of their colours, whether bright or pastel.

ht-004 ht-010ht-018 ht-020ht-029 ht-023 ht-026 ht-031ht-032 ht-027

This garden definitely did not disappoint and delivered extras we were not expecting but always enjoy, outdoor sculptural pieces. I have shown a few pieces from different directions and distances to show how well they sit in their garden environment.

ht-005 ht1-43 ht-033 ht-035 ht1-01ht-009 ht-012ht-013 ht-017ht1-37 ht1-32 ht1-30

ht1-29 ht-005ht1-27

Stone walls, some tall, tough and imposing others tiny, simply visually supporting and complimenting the plants, created a partnership with wide green swathes of grass pathways led our eyes down the garden invitingly – we just had to follow.

ht-008 ht-016ht-028 ht1-38ht1-41 ht1-36  ht-002 ht-006ht1-40 ht1-42

A stream appeared alongside the path we followed downhill and it accompanied us right down to the pool as the planting changed to reflect the damper air and ground. Rambling wild roses and native shrubs added plenty of colour and texture to the hedges.

ht-025 ht1-03 ht1-07ht-024 ht1-04  ht1-06 ht1-08 ht1-09 ht1-10

The pool edges and margins were still being developed but there were already interesting plant groupings going on.

ht1-11 ht1-12 ht1-13 ht1-22

This amazing ever-moving glass and metal sculpture hung over the water surface reflecting every moment that a breeze moved the air. I have put 3 pics in so that you can select the one you like best.

ht1-15 ht1-16 ht1-17ht1-20 ht1-23

Jude the Undergardener always likes a swing in the garden so this poolside play piece delighted her, hanging as it did below a huge ancient oak.

ht1-18 ht1-19  ht1-21   ht1-24 ht1-25 ht1-26

Wandering back up the slope slowly afforded us views of the garden slope and the farm bulding in the distance high up.

ht1-31 ht1-33

And to top it all off this unusual informal garden had a lovely productive garden and the finest views. a great day out indeed!

ht1-44 ht1-28 ht1-02

Posted in countryside, fruit and veg, garden design, garden furniture, garden photography, garden ponds, garden pools, garden seating, hardy perennials, Herefordshire, Land Art, landscapes, outdoor sculpture, sculpture, water in the garden, Yellow Book Gardens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gordon and Mona’s Place

We like to share with you the gardens owned by our fellow Shropshire gardeners and we especially sharing our visits to some excellent gardens created and looked after by fellow members of the Shropshire Group of the Hardy Plant Society. So here is a short series of three such gardens we enjoyed during 2016.

The first is owned by Gordon and Mona who also have a small nursery selling unusual plants. Gordon also gives garden talks to groups just as Jude and I do, so we have things in common. Gordon is a great lover of Salvias too, just like me, but unlike me he is very knowledgeable about them.

We followed roads leading us north-east from home towards a village known as Sheriffhales where we found the garden surrounding a house in the country. We loved the unusual entrance to the garden, passing through a narrow gateway in a holly hedge, which took us along a path to the back of the house and immediately we found ourselves immersed in the plants. It was like entering a secret garden, always a good start! Gates, hedges and pathways invited us seamlessly around the gardens surrounding Gordon and Mona’s home and comfy seats enticed us to sit a while and take in the scents and sounds of the garden. The movement of the many grasses and the bird song enriched the rest of the experience.

gm-02 gm-09 gm-11 gm-03

gm-40 gm-45gm-48 gm-47

Beautiful happy healthy plants growing upwards against a blue sky raise the spirits up with them.

gm-05 gm-06

Gordon had previously introduced us to Commelinas, perhaps the most delicate and beautiful blue flower to be found in any garden. We now have some of Gordon’s seedling growing on nicely at home and it was good to meet them again.

gm-12

Let us now just share some of the individual plants and plant companions we enjoyed so much on this visit. Some of these plant combinations are so exciting bringing together unlikely colour partners, the sign of confident and knowledgeable gardeners.

gm-43 gm-13 gm-15 gm-17 gm-16 gm-31 gm-35 gm-20 gm-18 gm-38 gm-39 gm-42gm-41 gm-30 gm-46gm-34 gm-26gm-44

Salvias are Gordon’s true specialism and interest and here they are beautifully grown, sitting happily in mixed borders and flowering profusely.

gm-21 gm-23 gm-25 gm-27 gm-29 gm-49

What a great afternoon visiting this lovely, gentle garden full of plant delights! Moments of magic appeared around every corner to add that little extra that raises a garden above the norm, as shown in my four pics below.

gm-24 ht1-37gm-08 gm-10

 

Posted in climbing plants, colours, fruit and veg, garden design, garden furniture, garden photography, gardening, hardy perennials, Hardy Plant Society, HPS, July, Shropshire, village gardens | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

My Garden Journal 2017 – March

The weathermen tell us that March is the first month of Spring so in this our third look at my 2017 Garden Journal we shall see if our garden illustrates this idea at all.

As an introduction to the month I wrote,”March is the month that should come in like a lion and go out like a lamb”. This year it came in like a wet fish! Rain and wind dominated, interspersed with occasional bright cheerful days. In the first week we managed very few gardening moments. But the Avocet patch will not be beaten, with leaf and flower buds bursting on trees and shrubs, signs of colour waiting in the wings.”

“Bursting blooms”! I continued by sharing photos of flowers bursting from buds.

     

 “Unfurling foliage!” And more of foliage escaping their bursting buds.

       

Turing over the page reveals a look at our Fritillaries, Fritillaria meleagris and Fritillaria uva vulpis which grow in our Spring Garden and in Arabella’s Garden.

I write among my  photos of Fritillaries,  “Fantastic Fritillaries – a March marvel! 

I looked for all the common local names for this Fritillary. “Our native Fritillary also known as Fritillaria meleagris is a plant of many names.”

 

“Snake’s Head Fritillary – Chequered Lily.”

 

“Chess Flower – Leper Lily” – Lazurus Bell”

 

“Guinea-Hen Flower” –  “Frog Cup”

 

“Drooping Tulip” – “Chequered Daffodil”

We grow our native Fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris in our “Spring Garden”, but we also grow Fritillaria uva vulpis with flowers that are so different inside and out.

 

“Purple and yellow on the outside.”

“Yellow, orange and red on the inside.”

 

Over onto the next double page spread and I take a look at a special rather subtle plant combination and some early tulips.

I wrote that “Good plant companions and communities are what lifts a garden above a collection of plants put on display. Sometimes two beautiful special plants with strong attributes of their own shine out even more when joined  together to produce a harmonious pairing, each enhancing the other. Here, I feature the combination of a Hebe “Red Edge” and a Prunus, P. “Kojo No Mai”. The blushing of the Hebe foliage is a perfect foil for the “washing powder white” of the Prunus’ petals.”

   

Moving on to look at some of our species tulips, I wrote, “The tiny flowers of our many species Tulips are now putting in an appearance, impressing with their delicacy and subtlety. The blooms open with the sun and close with its disappearance.”

   

Next we move on to my plant of the month for March. I wrote.

My plant of the month for March is a Celandine called “Brazen Hussey”, a chance find by Christopher Lloyd discovered in a clump of our native Celandine in a lane near his home. Our native Celandine, Ranunculus ficaria brightens up our hedgerows with its deeply glossy foliage and yellow “Buttercup” flowers, while “Brazen Hussey” sports glossy purple-black foliage. 

 

“We grow a small patch of our native Celandine but as it can become very invasive it has to be strictly controlled.”

“We grow several other Celandines too because they are such cheerful addictions to the Spring Garden, a white cultivar, Ranunculus fiscaria “Randall’s White …………….”

“….. a pale yellow flower against bronzed foliage ……”

 

“……. a Giant Celandine and a Green Celandine.”

On the next double page spread we look at our new summerhouse and a selection of special small flowers.

Concerning the summerhouse I wrote, “As we put the finishing touches to our new summerhouse birds are busy gathering nest materials, with many setting up home in the nestboxes we provide for them. The first of our summer migrants are back, the little warbler, the Chiffchaff with its distinctive and repetitive call and the Little Owl calling out in the evening like a yapping Jack Russell Terrier. As we work in the garden the larger of our birds of prey, Buzzards and Red Kites enjoy the thermals overhead, often stooping low over our heads. In contrast our smallest bird of prey, the diminutive Merlin rushes through the garden at head height or lower disturbing the resident Blackbirds.

On the opposite page I looked at those special little flowering plants that catch the gardener’s eye at this time of the gardening year. In other seasons when the garden is rich in flowers these special little gems may get overlooked in favour of the bigger, bolder and brighter cousins. I wrote, “At this time of year every small flower is extra special and deserving of our closest attention.”

 

Hacquetia epipactus and Iris reticulata “George”

“Daphne mezerium.”

 

Erysimum Red Jep”

Assorted Pulmonaria.”

The next turn of the page reveals a page about Primulas and the next about pollarding willows and dogwoods.

I wrote,”In February I wrote about the first of our native Primroses coming into flower, but in March they flourish along with their relatives.The pictures below show the diversity that we grow and enjoy.”

    

   

 

When I looked at pollarding and coppicing I wrote that, “The last week of March were mild and sometimes sunny so we took the opportunity to prune down our shrubs that we grow for their coloured stems, Cornus and Salix. We coppice some, pollard others.”

    

I continued to look at Salix and Cornus coloured stems on the last page of my entries for March, where I featured photographs of the bundles of cut stems.

      

So that was my garden journal for March. For the next month, April, we will see big changes as Spring becomes established.

 

Posted in flowering bulbs, garden buildings, garden design, garden photography, garden wildlife, gardening, hardy perennials, migration, ornamental trees and shrubs, Shropshire, shrubs, spring bulbs, spring gardening, trees, Yellow Book Gardens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Bodnant Garden – The Valley Sides

Back here at the wonderful Welsh gardens at Bodnant, we will finish our little series of 3 posts as we take you down the path that contains the colourful collection of Acers and then drops down into the steep sided valley to follow the clear, fast stream.

bod5-08

We were disappointed to find that the grass paths that we have in the past followed to seek out and enjoy the bright fiery colours of Acers at Bodnant, was blocked off to protect the worn out grass. We did find a way to see the Acer Glade from an alternative track so we couldn’t get up as close and personal. They were still great though!

bod5-17 bod5-16 bod5-15 bod5-14 bod5-13 bod5-04 bod5-12 bod5-11 bod5-03 bod5-09 bod5-10 bod5-07 bod5-06

We shall share our adventures exploring “The Dell”, the deep valley cut by the powerful stream, the Afon Hiraethlyn by creating a gallery of photos shared in the order taken.

That is it for our visit to the National trust property in North Wales, Bodnant Gardens. Perhaps we can do it all over again in a different season and see what we can find then.

Posted in autumn, autumn colours, colours, garden photography, gardening, gardens, gardens open to the public, National Trust, ornamental trees and shrubs, photography, The National Trust, Wales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bodnant Garden – an autumnal walk around a great garden.

In the first post about our day visit to the Bodnant Gardens not far inland from the coast of North Wales we looked at the special magical nature of the low November sunlight. But there was a lot more for us to enjoy as we explored in a different direction than we usually take as autumn repair work on the grass paths and lawns prevented us following where our footsteps normally tread. This of course paved the way for new discoveries and fresh views.

The plant that we got really excited about was this beautiful deciduous Euonymus dripping with a full crop of berries which in turn were dripping with fine droplets of rain. Euonymus alata “Compactus” bravely combines the darkest possible ruby red almost purple fruits from which burst bright tangerine orange seeds  and it looked wonderful. The younger berrying branches sported bright green coats in strong contrast to the older wood, coloured brown and strongly winged with corky ridges giving the whole bush an extravagant look. It also boasts fiery red foliage in the autumn and strangely its weakest point are the flowers which are small and a rather insignificant green in colour.

bod-22bod5-02

This exciting shrub had a lot of competition where catching the eyes of the visitors was concerned.

We love making new discoveries and on this visit to Bodnant we came across some fruit on a shrub which we could not remember having ever seen before and had no idea what it could be, with its tiny acorn-like fruits in two shades of orange. It looked if it would appear a rather dull evergreen shrub for most of the year but it must have flowers at some time which I would guess would be white.

bod3-1

Back to our explorations! So, moving away from the Winter Garden, Jude and I followed gravel tracks which crunched beneath our feet, the sounds of which softened only where we had carpets of fallen leaves to paddle through. We moved into more open areas where we could appreciate views of large specimen trees in the distance as well as beautifully textured and coloured perennials right under our noses.

bod-01 bod-03 bod-04 bod-14

Trees in November show off their strong networks of boughs, and judicious pruning of the lower leaves by skilled garden staff add extra power.

bod-05 bod-16 bod-11bod-06 bod-10  bod-12 bod5-01

It wasn’t all foliage and tree trunk texture though, there were still late flowering perennials shining through contrasting strongly with the colours of autumn.

bod-15 bod-07bod-09 bod-08

 

Posted in colours, garden design, garden photography, gardening, gardens, gardens open to the public, half-hardy perennials, hardy perennials, National Trust, ornamental trees and shrubs, The National Trust, trees, Wales | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bodnant Garden – a magical place in North Wales

For my last post of 2016 I thought I would share a visit we made to one of our favourite gardens, Bodnant Gardens in North Wales. A great way to celebrate our garden visiting exploits in 2016 and to look forward to visiting many more wonderful UK gardens in 2017.

Bodnant Gardens, a National Trust Property in North Wales, is described as a “glorious garden nestling in the Snowdonia foothills of North Wales and one of the world’s most magical gardens. With its dramatic scenery, historic plant collections, Champion Trees and myriad horticultural styles, it will capture your heart and live in your memory.”

It is just possible for us to get there, enjoy a day wandering and then return on the same day. So this is a day trip we have made many times over the years in different months but never before in November. We were not sure exactly what to expect but our expectations were definitely high. We were not to be in for the slightest disappointment!

After a two hour drive we arrived as mist and drizzle did its best to hide the garden but after our usual half hour sit for a coffee and cake we were  pleased to see the beauty of the garden revealed as the autumn sunlight brought the garden to life before our eyes setting the scene for an afternoon of pure magic, which we will share with you in a couple of posts.

Firstly this post will be all about the special nature of the light and how it added extra magic to the scenes unfolding before us.

After showing our membership cards we left the reception and upon entering the garden itself we only managed a few steps before the special light stopped us in our tracks. A long border running alongside a tall stone wall was on fire with the rich colours of late perennial flowers and the red and orange leaves of shrubs. The overnight dew was still hanging on the grass and every droplet became a jewel.

bod2-08 bod2-03 bod2-02 bod2-12bod2-13 bod2-14bod2-15 bod2-05

From the path running along the centre of the hot fiery bed we could look across towards the main garden where the light caught Acer foliage and wispy perennials.

bod2-07 bod2-11bod2-10 bod2-01

Individual flowers among this beauty, shone like jewels in a jeweller’s shop window display. Water droplets sat on the red blooms of this Fuschia and Salvia.

bod2-09 bod2-04

We had plenty of choices of pathways to follow but the choice was an easy one – go where the colours shone the brightest – off in to the newly created Winter Garden beneath a halo or red glowing foliage.

bod2-06 bod2-16  bod2-18 bod2-19 bod2-20 bod2-17 bod2-23bod2-22 bod2-25

With so much colour and texture surrounding us it was hard to home in to see the special beauty only to be found by looking closely and deeply searching for the detail.

bod2-24 bod2-26 bod2-27 bod2-28 bod2-29 bod2-30

Bodnant proved itself a most worthy contender for garden visiting late in the year and could well join the little group of special places we visit annually. In part two of my Bodnant posts we will share other parts of the garden with you, the places further afield than the Winter Garden.

Posted in autumn, autumn colours, colours, garden design, garden photography, gardening, gardens, gardens open to the public, grasses, light, light quality, ornamental grasses, ornamental trees and shrubs, photography, shrubs, The National Trust, trees, Wales, Winter Gardening, winter gardens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,